Notes Riley on the Rise Baby Talk

By Associated PressJanuary 23, 2007, 5:00 pm
2007 Buick InvitationalSAN DIEGO -- The Buick Invitational feels like home for Chris Riley. He grew up playing Torrey Pines, and he was runner-up to John Daly three years ago when his 3-foot putt in a playoff rimmed out of the cup.
 
But he came home this week by invitation only.
 
Riley is playing this week on a sponsor's exemption, the result of being in a free fall since playing in the 2004 Ryder Cup. He was 184th on the money list in 2005, but kept his card because of a now-extinct exemption for members of the last Ryder Cup team. He finished 150th on the money list last year and lost his full exemption.
 
It got worse. Riley went to Q-school and opened with an 83 on a blustery day. He withdrew two days later.
 
'I hit rock bottom,' Riley said Tuesday. 'I walked back out onto the range and they were like, 'Geez, this guy played on the Ryder Cup and now he's shooting 83 at Q-school.' It shows you what the game is all about.'
 
Riley has struggled to balance life on the PGA TOUR with two young daughters, and there is a lingering notion that his Ryder Cup experience -- where he told captain Hal Sutton he was tired after winning a fourball match with Tiger Woods -- also took a toll.
 
Whatever the case, he says his hunger has returned.
 
'My confidence has been shaken from not playing well the last couple of years,' he said. 'It's not like I can't play like I used to. I've got to chip and putt my butt off to compete out here; that's a given. I've got to make a couple of 30-footers, and I was doing that for quite a while. Now they seem to just bend over the edges.'
 
Riley is one of the best putters on TOUR, and he has given up trying to become a big hitter. He hit the gym religiously during the offseason, but says it isn't helping him add distance off the tee.
 
'I've come to the conclusion that I'm never going to hit it like Charley Hoffman or Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson,' he said. 'But if I can get my putter going, I can compete a little bit.'
 
The biggest concern now is getting into tournaments.
 
This is the only sponsor's exemption he has received on the West Coast, and he hopes to get into Pebble Beach and Mexico, the new tournament opposite the Accenture Match Play Championship. He thinks he can get into a dozen tournaments, and he plans to play eight or nine times on the Nationwide Tour.
 
'I'm going to play like it's my last tournament,' he said. 'I've got maybe a dozen shots this year, and if I don't do it, back to Q-school.'
 
TAMPA SPONSOR
Tampa Bay's search for a title sponsor could be over.
 
Golfweek magazine reported its web site Tuesday that PODS, a moving and storage company based in nearby Clearwater, Fla., is close to signing a six-year deal to become the title sponsor. The tournament moved from a week before the TOUR Championship to part of the Florida swing, played March 8-11 at Innisbrook.
 
Peter Warhurst, the president, CEO and founder of PODS, told the magazine that the tour has been 'very creative in trying to figure out a way to help us become a sponsor.'
 
'And I think we're close,' he said. 'To be honest with you, I haven't heard if we have crossed all the T's and dotted all the I's, but I give it a 95 percent chance that we're going to sign up for a six-year sponsorship.'
 
PLAYER ADVISOR
Paul Azinger has been one of the sharpest critics of PGA TOUR policy, from title sponsorship to player input over the new FedExCup. Now, the Ryder Cup captain will have a small say in matters.
 
His peers elected Azinger to the 16-member Player Advisory Council, which reports to the main policy board. Next up is an election to see who will be chairman of the PAC, and that player eventually is appointed to the policy board. But that's one election he won't win, because Azinger is taking his name out of consideration.
 
'I'm more interested in making history than making policy,' he said.
 
BABY TALK
Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods played together two straight rounds at the Target World Challenge last month, and while both were fathers-to-be for the first time, they either didn't know or weren't telling.
 
Woods disclosed at the end of December that his child is due this summer. Stenson told reporters at the Qatar Masters that his wife is expecting about the same time.
 
'I asked him when we were playing together at the Target if they were looking to have kids and he said no,' Stenson said. 'And I knew that we were pregnant and I didn't say anything. So neither one said anything. And then it came out a couple of weeks later.'
 
AMES' HOBBY
Stephen Ames had almost three months off with a bad back, but he wasn't getting cabin fever in Calgary.
 
He spent a lot of time in restaurants -- his restaurants.
 
Ames was looking for something to do outside golf and enjoys good food -- 'Don't you?' he said -- and wound up buying two restaurants in the Calgary area. One is a steakhouse called 'Vintage' that he opened three years ago, and he recently opened 'Rustic Grille.' The first one paid itself off in three years.
 
Making money in the food industry can be tough, but Ames said he made sure his manager was financially involved to the restaurant. Ames handles the promotion because everyone knows him in Calgary.
 
'You get to socialize, have a couple of drinks with friends, stuff like that,' he said. 'You learn a lot, the good wines, so when you go out you know which wines to pick. It's just a learning experience in life, I guess.'
 
DIVOTS
Former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman will skip the Wachovia Championship to play in the Italian Open. The Players Championship is the following week. ... Roberta Bolduc of Longmeadow, Mass., has been appointed chair of the USGA's Women's Committee. ... Qualifying for the British Open already is under way. Douglas McGuigan of Scotland and Desvonde Botes of South Africa were among four who made it through international final qualifying in Africa last week. ... Hale Irwin has agreed to be the honorary chairman for the 2008 U.S. Senior Open at The Broadmoor in Colorado. Irwin, a three-time U.S. Open champion, played college football at Colorado.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
More world ranking points were available last week at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on the European Tour than the Bob Hope Classic on the PGA TOUR.
 
FINAL WORD
'Golf has become like other sports. If you're small, you had better be quick. If you're big and slow, there will always be a place for you. And if you're big and fast, you can be a superstar.' -- Hank Haney.
 
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  • Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

    This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

    The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

    Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

    The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


    Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


    A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

    And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


    Masters victory


    Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

    Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

    Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


    Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


    Green jacket tour

    Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

    Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

    Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


    Man of the people


    Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

    Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

    Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


    Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


    Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


    Growing family

    Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

    Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


    Departure from TaylorMade


    Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


    Squashed beef with Paddy

    Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

    Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


    Victory at Valderrama


    Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

    Getty Images

    Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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    Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

    By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

    Well, this is a one new one.

    According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

    “No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

    Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

    “If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

    The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

    “I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

    The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

    Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

    Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.

    PGA Tour suspends Hensby for anti-doping violation

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 11, 2017, 8:02 pm

    Mark Hensby has been suspended for one year by the PGA Tour for violating the Tour’s anti-doping policy by failing to provide a sample after notification.

    The Tour made the announcement Monday, reporting that Hensby will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    The statement reads:

    The PGA Tour announced today that Mark Hensby has violated the Tour Anti-Doping Policy for failing to provide a drug testing sample after notification and has been suspended for a period of one year. He will be eligible to return on Oct. 26, 2018.

    Hensby, 46, won the John Deere Classic in 2004. He played the Web.com Tour this past year, playing just 14 events. He finished 142nd on the money list. He once ranked among the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking but ranks No. 1,623 today.

    The Sunshine Tour recently suspended player Etienne Bond for one year for failing a drug test. Players previously suspended by the PGA Tour for violating the anti-doping policy include Scott Stallings and Doug Barron.

    The PGA Tour implemented revisions to its anti-doping program with the start of the 2017-18 season. The revisions include blood testing and the supplementation of the Tour’s prohibited list to include all of the substances and methods on the World Anti-Doping Agency prohibited list. As part of this season’s revisions, the Tour announced it would also begin reporting suspensions due to recreational drug use.

    The Tour said it would not issue further comment on Hensby's suspension.